Iranian Missile Accidentally Brought Down Ukrainian Jet, Officials Say


WASHINGTON — An Iranian missile accidentally brought down a Ukrainian jetliner over Iran this week, killing everyone aboard, American and allied officials said on Thursday, adding a tragic coda to the escalated military conflict between Washington and Tehran.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said his country had intelligence that an Iranian surface-to-air missile brought down the jetliner, which was carrying 63 Canadians among its some 176 passengers and crew. Mr. Trudeau said his conclusion was based on a preliminary review of the evidence but called for a full investigation “to be convinced beyond all doubt.

“We recognize that this may have been done accidentally,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa. “The evidence suggests very clearly a possible and probable cause for the crash.”

United States officials had a “high level of confidence” that the Iranians brought down the airliner by mistake, one American official said. The official said that two missiles fired from an Iranian air defense system, the SA-15, shot down the airliner.

The comments from American officials came after the Iranians invited the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States to assist in the investigation despite previous reports that the Americans would not be involved, according to correspondence reviewed by The New York Times.

The board has reached out to the State Department to determine how to proceed, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the correspondence was not public. Sanctions against Iran prevent Boeing from contacting the Iranians without an export license, the people said.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Iran’s armed forces, Abolfazl Shekarchi, was quoted by the Iranian news media as saying that the crash was not a result of any military action.

“This is ridiculous,” Mr. Shekarchi was quoted as saying. “Most of the passengers on this flight were our valued young Iranian men and women. Whatever we do, we do it for the protection and defense of our country and our people.”

The satellite data is often combined with other sources of information. For example, American intelligence can also often detect when air defense radar are turned on or activated, giving clues to what systems have been used.

On Wednesday, American officials combined the information from the satellites with intelligence from intercepted calls.

President Trump, speaking at the White House on Thursday after an event announcing new environmental regulations, was asked about the downed airliner.

“I have my suspicions,” he said. “I don’t want to say that because other people have their suspicions also. It’s a tragic thing when I see that. It’s a tragic thing.”

He added that the crash could have been an accident.

“But somebody could have made a mistake on the other side,” Mr. Trump said. “It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood and somebody could have made a mistake. Some people say it was mechanical. I personally don’t think that’s even a question, personally. So we’ll see what happens.”

On Thursday, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said that investigators were following up on unconfirmed reports that fragments of a Russian-made Tor surface-to-air missile — a system used by Iran — had been found near where the plane, a Boeing 737-800, came down.


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